The other day I spent several hours ruminating over a resentment story.
I had been wronged, my day ruined, and in my head I kept repeating the same story: “Well, she said she would, but she didn’t, and now my day is screwed.” Not far from the surface was another reality, the one that really got me but which was harder to face: “I did this to myself.”
What was the issue? For an entire day and a half, I couldn’t get to my computer.
I had been away from it for two weeks, while on a work trip, and in short, I had completely over-thought the situation and twisted myself into a weird situation where my laptop had come with me on part of the trip, then I shipped it home, and a friend had told me she’d pick it up at the office, but she didn’t, so now here I was, home on Saturday evening, ready to get all caught up on computer stuff … and my computer was locked up in the office.
Even as I was happy to be home, spending time with my girlfriend, my mind had this story going. I would imagine myself conversing with other people, who would say things like, “Where’s your computer,” or “I bet you’re excited to do all that computer stuff.” And I would respond with The Story. I was like a camel chewing my cud, and it kept getting more and more bitter.
The next day, my girlfriend went home, and there I was, all alone with the frustration, disappointment, and most of all The Story. It was late morning, I was home after two weeks on the road, and I was spinning.
And that’s when the little bit of program that I have learned in my life kicked in. Barely, subtly, begrudgingly, I started to practice some principles
This isn’t working. I’m frustrated, bummed out, and of all damn things annoyed with a very dear friend because she didn’t do what I wanted. I feel like crap, I let a tiny bit of distance get between us, and something needs to change. There’s a line in our book that says something like “The difference between character assets and character defects is their effectiveness in helping us lead clean, spiritual lives.”
In this moment, my life was running on resentment, and it was not clean and spiritual.
Acceptance … and the Serenity Prayer
Okay, this is the situation: I ain’t getting that computer until tomorrow, so I have all day today without it. Can’t change that. What can I change? My attitude, and how I spend my time. So what else can I do with this day? Well, there’s that messy closet that’s been bothering me forever. Same with those drawers. Maybe even the storage locker.
Wait … these are actually things that I have always wanted to get done but didn’t …. because I was … on the computer all day?
“Do I do that?”
The essence of this story I had been repeating was, “She said she would, but she didn’t, which makes me mad (and a victim).” Well, we already covered the second part of that. She didn’t make me anything; I made that decision all on my own. But what about the first part: Said she would but didn’t.
Here’s a critical tool I learned in recovery: When I am annoyed at somebody for doing something, I ask myself, “Do I do that?” In this case, “Do I ever say I’ll do something and then not do it?” Usually hits me like a big slap in the face, and really did this time. Didn’t take much for me to go back through the last few days for more examples. Do I gossip? Do I wallow? Do I avoid uncomfortable things? Do I catastrophize?
On my “no-computer day” I would eventually go for a walk, get a haircut, finish reading two books, cook a nice dinner, stretch, meditate, and go to bed early. As I developed this peaceful, positive momentum in the day, I remembered something that actually made me stop and laugh out loud: I have said many times that I should not have a computer at home, so I could have more days like this!
It’s funny, really. I am in one situation (with computer), saying I wish I was in another (without computer), and then when that exact situation comes up, I get pissed off and wish I was in the other situation! See if this sounds familiar: When I am high I wish I was sober, and when I’m sober I wish I was high.
Humility and Gratitude
By the end of the day I was grateful to have been away from the computer – even while looking forward to getting it the next day, and making plans in my head to not let this happen again! Still, I had been reminded of another great truth learned in recovery: My mind doesn’t always, or ever, come up with the right answer the first time around. I get an idea for how I want things to go, they don’t go that way, I get pissed, and then things go just fine anyway.
What would life be like if I constantly looked at how things actually are and thought, “Cool – I wonder how this is gonna work out?”
Here’s the tricky part for me right now. I haven’t told my friend (the one who didn’t pick up the computer) that I was annoyed. I barely let on to my girlfriend why I was being distant. I think some amends could be made here. I had a resentment, it made me miserable, but I also owe amends to others. Of course, I have to make sure I am right about this (see above about my mind) and that I handle it well. Insert sponsor here.
Oh, and another thing that’s even trickier, on a deeper level: I owe an amends to myself! I was kicking the crap out of myself for screwing up the whole computer situation. Can I find it within myself to look myself in the eye, forgive myself, and say I love you … to myself?
These are the uncomfortable, honest, vulnerable acts that I spent years avoiding by getting loaded and running away. I avoided them last weekend by getting into anger. Will I avoid them now, to my own discomfort? Or might I kick back up with Awareness and start over with the principles of the program?
I wonder how this is gonna work out?
Funny (?) Postscript: The next day, when I got my computer, I spent almost the whole day looking at it … and felt like crap afterwards. So I went to a meditation meeting with a friend, and shared on acceptance.